Pre Poo Oil Treatment vs. Hot Oil Treatment for Hair: What’s the Difference?

February 14, 2022


Verna Meachum

Pre-poo Oil Treatment versus Hot Oil Treatment plus Benefits

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I'm just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

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There are many different types of hair treatments that you can do at home, but two of the most popular are the pre poo oil treatment and the hot oil treatment.

But, they’re actually very different from each other!

So, what’s the difference? And which one is better for your hair? The main differences between these two treatments are how they work with your hair, and at what stage of the washing cycle are they are applied.

Remember the VO5 hot oil treatments in the 80s? They were all the rave! I remember using them on my hair, and it felt so luxurious. I would heat up some water on the stovetop, pour it into a bowl, then put the tube of oil in the hot water to warm it up.

After it cooled down a bit, I slowly massage it into my hair. It was so relaxing, and the results were amazing. My hair was always so soft and shiny after that treatment.

Fast forward to when I started my healthy hair journey a few years ago…I was scrolling through my Instagram feed one day when I saw a post about pre poo oil treatments.

Intrigued, I clicked on the link and read up on the benefits. Apparently, this treatment can help protect your hair from damage caused by color and everyday wear and tear.

I was definitely interested in trying it out, so I ordered Righteous Roots Oils. When I got it, I followed the instructions and applied the oil to my hair. After leaving it in my hair overnight, I washed my hair as usual the next day.

The results were amazing! My hair felt softer and more moisturized than ever before. And best of all, it was less frizzy and tangled.

Note: If you have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema and are considering a hot oil treatment or pre poo oil treatment for your scalp, consult with your doctor or dermatologist first.

What is a Pre-Poo Oil Treatment?

A pre poo oil treatment is short for pre shampoo oil treatment. It is an oil that you apply to your hair before you wash it.

A pre shampoo treatment can be done with either conditioner or oil, or with a combination of both, or one’s own concoction.

The purpose of a pre poo oil treatment is to help prevent your hair from drying out during the shampooing process.

When you’re pre pooing, you’re prepping your hair for the shampooing process. The treatment gives your hair a protective layer. This is especially useful if your cleanser contains strong sulfates, which can strip your hair if its natural oils and cause your hair to become dry. 

A pre-poo oil treatment is an excellent method to preserve your hair, especially if you have color-treated or damaged porous hair.

Other purposes of a pre poo oil treatment include:

  • Retaining moisture in hair.
  • Detangling and preventing tangles.
  • Helping to reduce breakage during detangling.
  • Reduce frizz.

Note: Oils do not moisturize the hair, instead they coat(although some oils can penetrate)the hair shaft like a sealant that helps to retain moisture better.

How do Pre Poo Oil Treatments Work?

Pre poo oil treatments are pre shampooing products that you apply to your hair before washing it.

Pre poo oil treatments work by coating your hair in a layer of oil before shampooing. Hair can get dried out with over washing and a pre shampoo treatment can help.

They can be used in two ways: to protect your hair from damage and to retain moisture and shine.

According to the Science-y Hair Blog:

“If your hair is at all porous – even just a tiny, little bit, if it ever gets tangly or poofy or frizzy and seems like it needs weight, if washing it makes it seem to float in the air or if the ends of your hair seem to get wispy and disappear, oil pre-wash treatments can help. Oil pre-wash treatments add flexibility, softness and “weight” to hair. And when you think of “well moisturized” hair, you are referring to a number of qualities, two of which are flexibility and softness.”

“Hair-penetrating oils are ideal for some people’s hair because they “waterproof” the inner part of your hair that swells. If we can keep water from getting into our hair and swelling it up, it won’t end up waterlogged and the cuticles will chip off less and we’ll keep our lovely proteins and everything that keeps out hair strong from escaping down the drain.”

When using a pre poo treatment, you can easily detangle your hair when it’s dry rather than after it has been washed. Wet hair is more fragile and can break easier than when it is dry.

Tips for Washing Out a Pre Poo Treatment

Make sure to rinse out the treatment thoroughly to avoid any build-up. If you’ve used a lot of oil, you may need to wash twice, but be careful not to overdo it and strip your hair of its natural oils. 

If you usually cleanse your hair with a co-wash, then you may not want to use a lot of oil when pre-pooing, use just enough to lightly coat the hair and help detangle.

Ideally, you want a proper balance between using enough oil to accomplish an acceptable result and not so much as to leave your hair feeling greasy or limp.

What is a Hot Oil Treatment?

A hot oil treatment for hair is a treatment that you do with heated oil.

Unlike pre-poo treatments, hot oil treatments tend to follow the shampoo stage rather than precede it.

However, many people are finding utility in applying hot oil treatment at the pre-shampoo stage as well.

Hot oil treatments tend to include oils exclusively, whereas a pre shampoo treatment varies.

A hot oil treatment can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (or depending on the instructions of a store bought hot oil treatment).

How do Hot Oil Treatments Work?

Hot oil treatments are often used to treat dry, damaged, or frizzy hair. They can also help with split ends caused by dryness and breakage. The purpose of a hot oil treatment is to help hair retain moisture and soften it.

If you have dry, damaged hair, a hot oil treatment can help to restore it to its former glory.

If you’re unsure whether a hot oil treatment is appropriate for you, conduct a patch test before using it.

To do a patch test:

  1. Put a tiny amount of the unheated oil on the inside of your elbow.
  2. If you don’t experience any irritation or develop a rash within 24 hours, it’s safe to use.
  3. If, however, you do react to the oil, try different oils until you find one that works for you.
  4. Always use caution when using a hot oil treatment and please follow the safety instructions, paying careful attention to the temperature of the oil.
  5. Oil is generally required to be heated, so you risk getting burned if it is not cooled down enough before applying it to your hair and scalp.
  6. To test the temperature, apply a tiny amount of oil to your wrist before using it.

Pre Poo or Hot Oil Treatment?

Pre-poo oil treatment versus Hot oil treatment plus benefits.JPG

The pre shampoo treatment is not the same as a hot oil treatment.

A pre shampoo treatment is used before you wash your hair, whereas a hot oil treatment is generally applied after washing and conditioning your hair, however there are no set rules.

Pre shampoo treatments are often used to help hair retain moisture and shine, as well as protect hair during the washing process.

The benefits of both treatments are pretty much the same – to help hair retain moisture, soften, reduce frizz, and give hair it’s luster back.

If you have dry, damaged, or frizzy hair, a pre-shampoo treatment can help you regain healthy, beautiful locks.

If your hair is already in good shape, a hot oil treatment can help maintain its health and prevent damage.

Both treatments are beneficial, so choose the one that works best for you!

How to Pre Poo Your Hair

The process of pre-shampooing is straightforward and does not take long. Because it takes place before shampooing and conditioning, you’ll apply the pre-poo treatment to dry hair.

The process is very simple and only requires a few ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen.

Types of oils to look for

The oils used in pre poo treatments are sometimes a combination of natural and synthetic oils. So, look for oils that aren’t combined with synthetic ingredients and are 100 percent natural. Also, look for penetrating oils.

You will need to experiment to discover what works best for you! Remember, always let your hair be your guide.

In this process, I will show you how to pre poo your hair with coconut oil. But, you can also use any penetrating oil of your choice. I personally use the Righteous Roots Oils. It’s been my go to oil since the beginning of my healthy hair journey.


Coconut Oil

– Shampoo

– Towel


Step One: Apply the coconut oil on your hair from root to tip in sections. Use a wide tooth comb or your fingers to detangle while distributing the oil evenly throughout your hair.

Step Two: Leave it on for at least 30 minutes or you can also leave it on overnight (depending on the goal).

Step Three: Shampoo your hair as usual and rinse.

How to Use a Hot Oil Treatment on Your Hair

The process is pretty simple. You can use whatever oil you have in the house (olive, coconut, avocado) or buy a hot oil treatment product from the store.

Make sure to test out the temperature of the oil before applying it to your hair because you don’t want to burn your hair or scalp.

Step One: Heat up the oil of your choice in cup of warm water.

Step Two: To ensure that the oil isn’t too hot, test a little amount of it on your wrist before applying it to your hair.

Step Three: Apply the oil to your hair, concentrating on the ends, massaging with your fingers for a few minutes. For store bought treatments, follow the instructions.

Step Four: Wash and condition as usual.

You may use hot oil in your hair once a week, just like you would with other types of hair treatments.

If your hair is extremely dry, you might want to use it more often.


Oil pre-shampoo treatments can be a great way to help your hair retain moisture and keep it free from frizz.

By choosing the right oils and using them in the right way, you can create a variety of amazing effects in your hair, hopefully finding one that works well for you.

Have you tried a pre-poo oil treatment or hot oil treatment?

Share your experience in the comments.

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